Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Wants More Information From Camp

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter spent a month at camp this summer. When she got home, she told me that one of the girls in her group had tried to hurt herself through cutting.

I was shocked. The camp had not mentioned this to me. I think this is a serious mental health problem, and parents should have been informed. Obviously, they want to keep that teen’s identity private, but I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have informed the parents of the incident.

What can I do regarding this situation? My daughter wants to go back to the camp, but I’m reluctant to agree to that if the camp isn’t going to inform parents of potential safety challenges. What do you recommend? -- Camp Communication

DEAR CAMP COMMUNICATION: You should contact the camp administration immediately, let them know what your daughter told you and ask what happened. Let them tell you what they know. Then inquire directly as to why they did not immediately let you know this had occurred. Ask what they did when this happened. Did they send the teen home? Do they have guidance counselors or psychologists on site to help the campers deal with challenges like this? How are they going to try to prevent this type of behavior in the future? Be direct about asking them what they will do to make you feel that it is safe for your daughter to return.

Now, I will tell you that even at the most efficient camps, teens do sometimes try extreme behaviors. If there are disturbed teens at a camp, there is a chance that something like cutting can occur. Camp administration may not be able to prevent this or other dangerous behaviors completely, but they should be required to inform parents and to have protocols in place to support the teen in need and the rest of the camp community.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve realized that I need to get a better work ethic, especially with my studies and job; I do not know what I can do to improve this aspect of my life. I often find myself procrastinating heavily, and I need ways to improve my productivity. What are some ways I can hold myself more accountable? -- Need to Mature

DEAR NEED TO MATURE: The most essential thing you must do is change your mindset. You have to tell yourself again and again that you intend to be productive each day and that you have the presence of mind and discipline to do so. From there, you can try this organizational strategy to support you. Start each day by making a list of what you need to accomplish. Break down your tasks by category so that you focus on areas of responsibility. List each individual task that you need to accomplish. If there is time sensitivity, put those items that must be finished first in bold text. Add times next to those that have real deadlines. When you complete a task, mark it off. Little victories will inspire you to keep pushing. At the end of each day, review what you were able to complete and what is remaining.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)